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Page last updated at 14:49 GMT, Monday, 1 September 2008 15:49 UK

Afghan children die in Nato raid

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Nato-led troops have accidentally killed three children in south-eastern Afghanistan, the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) has said.

An Isaf patrol used artillery rounds to return fire after it came under attack from insurgents in the Gayan district of Paktika province, a statement said.

One round hit a house, killing the children and wounding seven civilians.

The deaths are the latest in a spate that have strained relations between Nato-led forces and Afghan authorities.

The Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, has been increasingly critical of the number of civilian deaths in his country in recent months.

Dispute over casualties

In a statement on Monday, Isaf said it deeply regretted the "accident" in which the three children were killed in Paktika province.

"An investigation as to the exact circumstances of this tragic event is now under way," it added.

Isaf troops have been accused of killing dozens of civilians in the past few weeks, but the force says new reports of Nato-led troops being responsible for several more deaths in Helmand province over the weekend are nothing more than propaganda by insurgents.

Isaf said it had provided medical care to more than 20 civilians in Helmand and was investigating the cause of their injuries.

Earlier, the US military said its forces and Afghan troops had killed more than 220 militants in clashes in Helmand last week.

Correspondents say that casualty figures in the Afghan conflict are often manipulated for propaganda purposes and that the country's insecurity makes independent verification of any claims difficult.



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